Well-said: "When government gives a shekel, it gives a shackle." By Peg Luksik, Johnstown, PA, mother of six children and a former candidate for Governor and Founder of "Mom's House," an alternative to abortion.
"With government coins, comes government control." (Me)
I met Peg in Johnstown at a William Russell function a month ago and found her to be a very impressive person. I believe I disagree with her somewhat about John Murtha's stance on the sanctity of life -- and also perhaps on the best way to campaign against him. At some point, I'd like to write more on Mrs. Luksik, with an emphasis on our different views about what's possible in American government and what's not. If you want to know more about her views while she ran for Governor (in 1998), go here.
The best way -- the only way -- to campaign against John Murtha is to attack him -- for his gratuitous comments about the Haditha Marines and the War generally, for his abject failure to "bring home the bacon" to his economically depressed congressional district, and for his total sell-out to lobbyists, most of them living the high life in the Washington Beltway. (More later today)http://nationaljournal.com/pubs/almanac/2006/people/pa/rep_pa12.htm
It's true that many people in the Johnstown area (Cambria County) look at John Murtha as "a decorated veteran of Viet Nam" and a man who has "brought home the bacon" to the 12th Congressional District. In fact, there are serious questions -- ones Murtha has never put to rest with medical records -- about his "wounds" (very minor one) in Viet Nam. Former Democratic congressman Don Bailey has said Murtha told him he basically fabricated his heroism in Viet Nam. (See: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewPolitics.asp?Page=%5CPolitics%5Carchive%5C200601%5CPOL20060113d.html
In fact, Viet Nam -- like ABSCAM, another less-than-stellar moment for Murtha -- was long ago. Voters in the 12th District, like many across the nation, tend to put a "statute of limitations" on past misdeeds. In 2006, Diana Irey focused her TV campaign mainly on ABSCAM, and it didn't seem to help her that much.
On the other hand, Murtha's exaggerated claims about producing some sort of economic rebirth in the 12th District are absurd. As I've pointed out in a previous column -- with statistics from the Almamac of American Politics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- very few people in the 12th have benefited from the huge amounts of federal dollars Murtha has brought in. The Median Household Income (MHI) in most of the 12th, especially Greene County, is below the MHIs in inner-city districts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Murtha's failures to energize local economies should be a major issue, as should his self-serving -- and false -- accusations about the "Haditha Marines," one of whom (Justin Sharratt) is in Murtha's District. Did he know that Sharratt lived in Washington County? Frankly, such considerations don't seem to matter to Murtha.
He was running for Majority Leader and anti-military remarks helped him with far-Left Democrats like Obey and Waxman. No mater, I guess, that the remarks energized al Qaida in Iraq.
I've written before on John Murtha's shaky stance on issues related to the sanctity of life. Peg Luksik -- mentioned above -- differs with me on this issues. She believes Murtha has taken steps to advance the pro-life cause, and I disagree vigorously. Murtha has endorsed many extremist Democrats, most notably Nancy Pelosi, who favor partial birth abortion and other abominations. If Murtha opposed abortion as a matter of principle, he would not be head cheerleader for Democrats who want nothing done to reduce abortions.
Jack Murtha lives in a world that would be incomprehensible to most 12th District voters, including the Democrats. Here's how author John Brady describes the DC of the past (and present): "Washington was a men's club, basically, where the key to success was building relationships." (From Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater)
Brady adds, "Washington was also about men making deals, using a smiling face . . . as a front for carrying on with some of the most ruthless behavior in the land." This is a world people like Peg Luksik, Diana Irey, and even William Russell only know from a distance. John Murtha? He's one of the one men who created that world.
Political guru Lee Atwater (who also knew the world of "ruthless behavior") was an expert on defeating Democrats in districts that were staunchly Democratic. (He was talking about the South in early 1970s, but his remarks apply to Murtha's district.)
Atwater said, "Republicans in the South [in 1970] could not win elections by talking about issues. You had to make the case that the other candidate was a bad guy."
Precisely. You can's defeat Murtha by saying that he's basically "a good guy who's somehow gone astray." Frankly, if he was a 'good guy," which he's not, he'd deserve to be re-elected until he was carried out feet-first from the House.
Murtha may be a good something, but he's NOT a good man. Granted, some people in the 12th enjoy living life in a veil of illusion. But many voters are aware that he's a self-aggrandizing bully, and they're the ones a candidate like Russell should be appealing to.
If you read the statistics (economic, voter registration, vote totals) about the 12th carefully, they tell the story of how Murtha can be defeated. You'll hear more about those statistics in the days ahead.
The critical moments for Lt. Col. William Russell will occur in the coming winter and spring. He will need to raise enough money to mobilize supporters and get his message across. If he does those things, he can win.